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Vancouver Folk Music Festival cancels 2023 event, moves to fold organization

VFMF photo

The Vancouver Folk Music Festival Society (VFMFS) announced today that it will not be moving ahead with a festival in 2023.

What’s more, the board of directors will hold a membership vote to dissolve the society at the society’s annual general meeting on Feb. 1.

“After two years of COVID-related shut-downs, we came back in 2022 to find the festival environment greatly changed,” said board president Mark Zuberbuhler in a news release.

“Many of our service providers and suppliers had completely disappeared, which necessitated herculean efforts and massively increased costs just to cover the basics of production, like stage, fencing, and tents. We had a great festival, but we did not break even.

“On top of costs continuing to rise, we are also facing new financing challenges, which makes the production of the festival unsustainable … For example, many of our vendors now require payment up-front, which our cash flow does not allow for. With today’s pricing, we would require an additional $500,000 in funding every year to produce the festival, which is unfortunately not realistic or sustainable for our organization.”

Given those challenges, the VFMFS board has recommended to members that the society should cease operations by the end of March 2023 to help ensure the society meets its financial obligations.

“The Vancouver Folk Fest has been a part of the fabric of the city for decades,” said board vice president Philip (FiL) Hemming, “and it’s been an incredibly emotional and hard decision for the board to recommend that the festival end. We looked for ways to continue, but in the end, none of the available options worked. It’s been an incredible 45 years, and we wish to conclude well with our bills paid. We are extremely grateful to our audience, funders, volunteers and staff who have made the festival happen through the years.”

 

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2 comments

  1. Ken Whiteley 17 January, 2023 at 20:06

    What an unfortunate confluence of events that has led the Board of the Vancouver Folk Festival to understandably recommend that the festival close down. I’m commenting because I was struck that in the list of people who were thanked there was absolutely no mention of performers. While this pandemic has definitely been hard on presenters of all kinds, it has also been extremely challenging for artists.
    I feel extremely fortunate to have performed at this wonderful festival many times over the years including the very first one. Gary Cristal created it with a strong vision and that was well carried forward by many subsequent artistic directors and staff. Let’s hope that the vacuum created in the Vancouver folk scene will in turn be filled with new possibilities.

  2. Nancy White 19 January, 2023 at 14:58

    I noticed that too, Ken. I guess it depends on your point of you. The Vancouver Festival was one of the best ones to play at and listen at. It was international in scope — remember he TUVA guys??!! – and Gary Cristall was a grand host. Thanks for pointing this out!

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